Thursday, August 30, 2012


Hi friends.  It's been a week.  And it is only Thursday morning.  I think it has been made harder by the fact that Fletcher has shared his summer cold with the household.  And not to be dramatic or anything, but it's the worst. cold. ever.  I have the scratchiest of throats, and my head is threatening to explode from the sinus pressure.  Nope, that's not dramatic at all.  Like Brian says, I live in a hyperbolic chamber.

And then various things occurred yesterday that included dropping a knife on my foot.  Fletcher taking a flying nosedive on rough pavement.  There was much blood.  (No one got stitches yesterday- the bright spot!)  Rowan taking a minimal nap, and then waking up lots last night to just check in and let us know she's awaaaaake!  Brian got home from work after 10 pm.  Much later than the previous nights of 8:30 pm this week.  And all while I have the worst. cold. ever. 

So while I still can count my blessings instead of sheep at night, I'm not going to lie.  It's been a week.  And I honestly just need a break.  A break from being the only parent home between the hours of 5:30 am to 8:30 pm.  A break from flying knives.  A break from one of my favorite places: this here blog.  And just in time, Brian has a 4 day weekend!  See, a huge blessing to count.  But I'll be taking about a week off from here.  I need a recharge, and I always think I come back with a purpose when I do that.  (Right? right...?) 
I'll be spending time with my 3 favorites.  And some other family and friends, too.  It's going to be a great weekend to make up for a week of challenges. 

I hope you have a great weekend, too, friends.  If you celebrate Labor Day, then enjoy the long weekend!  And I'll see you back here next Thursday or so. 

*you can still find me hanging around here and here*

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

southwestern risotto with avocado

This is new territory for me.  I'm not much of a risotto maker.  I usually reach for rice.  But I'm branching out and trying new things!  Being brave.  It was one of my New Years resolutions.  I know, trying new food might not seem brave, but small steps, people.  So I tried risotto this time, and it wasn't a disaster!  Yay!  In fact, it was very tasty.  Not at all like my previous forays into risotto. 

1 lb risotto
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pepper, thinly sliced (green, red... etc.)
1 cup corn (I used fresh, but you can also use defrosted or canned)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2 small avocados, chopped into small pieces
4 T olive oil
1 T butter
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
couple sprigs of cilantro
hot sauce to taste (I used Cholula)
optional: cheese (I used goat cheese, but cheddar, monterey jack, or chihuahua would be good)
optional garnish: salsa, sour cream
serves 4-6

First saute your onions and peppers in 2 T olive oil until softened and lightly browned.  Add in your tomatoes and corn and warm lightly for about 1 minute.
Set aside.  Warm the other 2 T of olive oil and the butter in a large pot.  Add the risotto and stir for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Pour in the wine, and continue stirring until absorbed.
Pour in enough broth to just cover the risotto, and stir, stir, stir.  I think this was my problem before.  I wasn't vigilant and left it to simmer like rice.  Risotto is high maintenance and needs consistent if not constant stirring. 
Continue this process until the risotto has absorbed the broth.  This will take some time- 15 to 20 minutes.  High maintenance.  Stir in your avocado. 
Add in the rest of the vegetables, the cumin, cilantro, and hot sauce.  Stir.
I added some goat cheese for just a little tang, but I'm pretty sure any cheese would be tasty melted into this mixture.  Or skip it all together.  Your choice! 
Garnish with salsa, sour cream, or more cheese, or just eat it right out of the pot! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

home tour: rental kitchen mini-makeover

We are renting a very charming, rambling slightly older house (1960's, not 1860's like our last house).  And we are lucky that the owners updated all the bathrooms and the kitchen, too.  Kind of updated.  New appliances.  New floors.  But the cabinets?  Not so much.  The light fixtures?  No.  So the kitchen still has dark oak cabinets and very little light.  The big window provides some morning light, but even that can't reach the dark recesses of some of the counters.  Dark cabinets + bad lighting + dark flooring = DARK KITCHEN. 
This was becoming a problem, because I knew that as the summer light waned, and the short days of winter appeared, this kitchen was going to be even darker.  So I did 3 very cheap, and easy projects to make the kitchen a little bit happier. 

The first one I shared with you already.  The little hankie curtain
And you can see I also added black contact paper to the cabinets to change them up a bit.  I used this contact paper, which is cheaper than actual chalkboard paper, but still works like chalkboard paper.  It comes in a huge roll, but I have been using it up in other places, too!  You might think that making the cabinets even darker would in turn make the kitchen darker, but once you start writing little pictures and messages on them, they actually brighten up the kitchen!  And to add a bit more light, Brian pinned up a string of big bulb lights over the cabinet.  They add a lot of extra light, especially in those dark corners!  I was hoping for more of a cafe vibe, and not college dorm vibe, so hopefully that at least was achieved.  Here are some of the after pictures.  Sorry, I did not clear the counters before taking these pictures.  I, uh, wanted you to see how we REALLY live, ha!
Rowan especially loves having the chalkboards down on her level.  She wakes up and demands chalk, first thing. 
And then she gets to work! 

Overall, these little touches made me much happier to be in the kitchen.  If I could, I would replace the cabinets or paint them a bright color, but you do what you can when you rent.  I also wanted to replace all the pulls, but Brian (being oh so level-headed) said it wouldn't be a great investment since we'd only be here a couple years. 

What has been your favorite mini-makeover to your dwelling?

Monday, August 27, 2012

the weekend, from my phone

peaches from the neighbor's tree/Fletcher + Nutella = love/to ombre or not: Rowan's "new" thrifted dresser/snuggling with a book on a rainy day/fondue date night at home- after kids are in bed/practicing the smooth art of shaving

Hi friends.  Here is a blogger's way of "phoning it in."  We raid our phone for pictures we have taken so that we don't have to upload camera pics and then edit them because we just had a busy weekend and it's Monday morning which means we are just trying to wake up, really.  Phew!  Perfectly constructed sentence there.  Anyway.  We had a fun weekend, got a few little projects done around the house, found a new State Park to enjoy, and ate some of our favorite foods.  Melted cheese is pretty much my #1. 

And now I need some help from you.  I posted that picture of Rowan's dresser on instagram, asking if I should ombre or not.  So far everyone says yes, but I'd like some more opinions, please!  I just cannot decide!  I like the white, which is just a bit worn- how I like it- with a hint of turquoise peeking through.  But I do like the ombre dresser trend I've seen floating around pinterest.  You can see the colors I'd use (the lighter side of the samples). 

Thanks in advance!  This is what I love about blogging.  I can ask everyone for opinions about the important things in life.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fletcher scissorhands

I want to say thanks to everyone who commented on Fletcher's first day at preschool.  Especially about the scissors.  I'm glad I'm not the only mama out there that doesn't just hand over a pair at birth. 

It is, however, becoming apparent to me that Fletcher's teacher is OBSESSED with scissors.  She gives me an update on his scissor usage daily, and frequently comments on him working on it at home.  She even brought out a pair of scissors that are designed for little hands, suggesting I go buy them.  She announced recently that he is finally starting to get it.  On the 2nd week of school, finally!  Ok.  Lady.  HOW IS EVERYTHING ELSE?  Maybe I am some kind of delinquent mother, but I could give a crap on how he is CUTTING.  How about writing his LETTERS???  How about learning to recognize WORDS?  Or more importantly for his age, how is he interacting with the other children?  Is he kind to them?  Does he share?  DOES HE PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS?  These are the things that concern me at his age. 

So please, lady, PLEASE.  Lay off the scissor updates.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

diy won't budge hair scarf

I have a thing for vintage scarves.  And I really like wearing them in my hair.  Especially on those days when your hair isn't being very cooperative, or, ahem, your roots are starting to show.  I used to wear them a lot more before I had littles.  No matter what the fabric, they would slide around my hair too much, but I had the time to adjust and re-adjust whenever necessary.  Now?  Not so much.  I just don't have the time to stop and re-adjust ANYTHING on myself anymore.  Just ask my lips after that first coat of lipgloss in the morning.
And then one day it hit me.  I needed to add something to the actual scarf to keep it from slipping around my head.  A quick look at the hair accessory aisle and the hair combs just jumped out at me.  I went home, quickly sewed the combs onto a scarf, and success!  It doesn't budge.  I know I'm not alone in my scarf wearing life, so I'm going to share this quicky diy with you.  Your head will thank me.

What you need:
My scarf is square, so I folded it into a triangle first, and then folded it up from there.  If you have a long rectangular scarf, you can fold it lengthwise.  So lay out your scarf, folded over in half, and then fold it up from there in the way you usually wear it.
Hold it up to your head, as if you are about to tie it on, and put your thumbs on a point where the scarf hits the sides of your head.  Lay the scarf down, and replace your thumbs with the hair combs.
Unfold your scarf so that you are only sewing through 2 layers.  I did this so that I could wear the scarf in multiple ways without the thread showing.
Then I tacked the combs down.  I just sewed through the scarf, made a little "x" on the ends of each comb, going over and over it about 5 times to ensure it wouldn't pop off easily.  I have a little girl that pulls at EVERYTHING I put on my head.  I should mention that if you have a scarf that is worth something, monetarily or sentimentally, you may want to think twice about poking a needle through it.  Some scarves might "run" like pantyhose, so be careful! 
Fold it back up the way you like, and you are done!
And believe it or not, even with the combs sewed in, you can still wear the scarf in lots of different ways.  I usually wear it folded like above, when my hair is up.
But it didn't budge when my hair was down, either, and that's when the scarves tend to slip out the most.
And the combs worked even when I turned the scarf over and tied it at the nape of my neck, leaving it mostly unfolded.
{thank you to Brian for taking these pictures}
Quick and easy solution!  It stayed put when Fletcher jumped into the shots and started playing around.  So, yep, kid tested! 

Do you wear scarves in your hair on those bad hair days?  Do you have problems with slippage, and how do you fix it?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

tomato + eggplant cobbler

I found some beautiful stuff at the farmer's market this past weekend.  Including these gorgeous purpley-red tomatoes.
And these wacky looking eggplants.  Yes, these are all eggplant! 
And I was thinking about what to make with all of it.  A big salad?  Another pot of ratatouille?  And then I remembered this recipe  from Joy the Baker (who has a fun and tasty blog, indeed).  Tomato cobbler with blue cheese biscuits.  I had pinned it a couple weeks ago, and it really knocked my socks off visually and in the way it was described.  So I went to work.  Changing the recipe to suit my own needs, of course!  I added some of the eggplant, and changed blue cheese to gorgonzola.  GORGONZOLA is one of my FAVORITES.  It turned out delicious.  If you'd like to try my version, here is what you need:

Biscuits for topping
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup gorgonzola crumbles
3/4 cup cold buttermilk or milk

Tomato + Eggplant filling
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped eggplant
1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375.  Caramelize your onions in olive oil.  Add in the garlic when they are almost finished.  Once the onions are browned, take off the heat and add the balsamic.  While your onions are caramelizing, combine the tomatoes, eggplant, basil, flour, and spices into a big bowl. 
Add the onions and stir gently until well mixed.  Pour into a square baking dish or pan.
Bake the mixture for 20 minutes. 

While it is baking, start on the biscuits.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the butter. Break up the butter into the flour with a fork or your fingers until the butter pieces are the size of peas. Add the gorgonzola and stir it in. Add the milk, and stir just until it is mixed together. Pour out the dough onto a floured area, and knead 10 times. Flatten out into a 1 inch thick circle.
Using a biscuit cutter or a 2 inch wide glass, cut out your biscuits.  There should be 9 to 10 biscuits.  Or 12 if you make a couple drop biscuits out of the scraps like I did.  Feel free to use child labor.  They love it.
After the tomato eggplant mixture is finished baking, top it with as many biscuits as you would like.  But be sure to leave a bit of space for the tomato mixture to bubble up.  You can freeze the remaining biscuits, or put them on a separate pan to bake like I did.  The littles ate up the extras- cheesy biscuits are officially a hit here.
Bake another 18 to 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are lightly browned, and the mixture starts bubbling.  Let cool for 15 minutes, and then dig in!
Such a great way to use some of that late summer produce.  Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2012


There was initially some uncertainty to whether Brian would be home over the weekend or not.  Unfortunately, uncertainty is just part of the job when you are in the Army.  Plans, events, and life can change on a dime.  And the planner in me just cringes and tries to go along for the ride.  But we were so happy to have Papa home with us over the weekend, especially since he had mostly gotten home after bedtimes during the week. 

We took advantage of having Papa around.  We lounged in pajamas a bit longer.  We waited around the kitchen table for a big stack of his famous pancakes.  I drank Brian's french press coffee, and we all woke up in our own time.
Some of us wake up a little faster around here.
We took the kids out to hibachi one night.  It was a disaster/success.  Rowan screamed from the moment the chef started throwing knives around until the moment he delivered food to her plate.  Fletcher cheered, clapped, gamely caught food in his mouth, and ate like a champ.  Once the chef was gone and she had food on her plate, Rowan calmed down and ate. 

We went to the farmer's market and got lots of good stuff to eat.  The littles love all the taste tests that are offered to them.
Brian loves to stop and chat with every farmer/craftsman.  Which always ends up in some purchase.  And I love watching them all enjoy themselves.

But perhaps one of the best parts of the weekend was an hour and a half drive to the nearest city.  All by myself!  Both ways!  I did some fall shopping for the littles, bought tons of new shoes for their growing feet, and reveled in walking up and down every aisle in Target.  Yes, every aisle.  It took a while.  I visited a couple other stores, and then sat in Barnes and Nobles with a coffee and flipped through magazines.  It was heaven. 

And then yesterday I got a couple of projects finished, made a new recipe, and felt like I accomplished something, finally!  It was a perfect weekend!  What does your perfect weekend look like?

Friday, August 17, 2012

cool morning

It is cold this morning.  Cooooolllld.  Like in the low 60's.  Which is not actually cold, but after weeks and weeks of 100+ temperatures, the 60's feels very chilly.  And tonight they say it will get into the 50's.  The 50's!!  I tell you, I may have to break out the flannel jammies.  This whole week has been mostly cloudy and a lot cooler than usual, so I've been enjoying it.  Thinking of pumpkin spice lattes.  Thinking of bonfires and chili.  There is Halloween all over my Pinterest feed.  And school has started!  Yep, I've got fall on the brain.  Sorry summer lovers, but I'm ready for fall. 

It's pretty apparent that going back to school has pretty much taken over my brain this week, as you can tell by my blog posts.  It is very strange that it is my child going to school, and not me.  At what age do you stop feeling like you are forgetting something when you don't go back to school?  Just wondering.  I still have dreams about school.  Forgetting to go to a class all semester and then I have a final that I have to Ace to pass the class.  You know, school brand anxiety dreams mixed into my usual brand of anxiety dreams. 

Now excuse me while I go grab a blanket and sip coffee on our back deck before both the kiddos are awake.  And before it warms up to 80.